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NBA, Verizon Join Forces on $400 Million Mobile Content Deal

2 Dec, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

It’s the smoking gun that lets everyone see how much the NBA is pursuing a younger demographic.

Verizon and the National Basketball Association have announced a marketing deal that revolves around the new, ad-supported Go90 mobile video streaming service targeting younger consumers that rolled out last month. An article in MediaPost noted the $400 million deal is the first of its kind.

The NBA “will bring daily league highlights, new original series and access to some live games,” reports Emily Steel for the New York Times. “The deal … also establishes Verizon as the official wireless provider of the NBA. As part of the agreement, Verizon will become the title partner of the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest and a partner of the NBA Draft.”

USA TODAY noted the deal will run for three years, “The non-exclusive arrangement frees the NBA to shop content to other streaming outlets.”

“Go90, whose name refers to the way users flip their phone horizontally to watch videos, is now one of several offerings from TV and communications providers who are angling to compete at a time when cable television subscriptions are on the decline, as users turn to streaming services like those from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO and others,” Sarah Perez wrote for TechCrunch when the app launched on the iTunes App Store and Google Play last month.

The service is squarely aimed at the tech-savvy Gen Z and Millennial generations, “about 75% of whom turn to mobile first as their video platform of choice,” USA TODAY reports. “The app and service are free, and a Verizon cellular contract is not a requirement; you can access Go90 via any U.S. carrier or on wi-fi.” 

“People ask why Go90 is different than Comcast’s Watchable, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. Live sports is one major reason why,” Brian Angiolet, Go90’s SVP for product and marketing tells the NYT’s Steel.

The NBA’s new partnership with Verizon comes at the expense of Sprint, its most recent marketing partner, although it is reported that Sprint had previously given notice that it would not be renewing its sponsorship with the NBA. Prior to that, the NBA partnered with T-Mobile.

In commenting on that story, Awful Announcing blogger Andrew Bucholtz observed: “It’s notable to see these kind of deals being struck around new content pathways. It’s a further indication that the sports broadcasting business is changing rapidly, and that the future will involve deals for much more than just conventional television rights.”

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